Sunday, 31 May 2009

Serie A - Week 38: Sunday Review

Fiorentina 0-2 AC MilanAC Milan booked themselves an automatic place in the UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 victory at rivals Fiorentina in Carlo Ancelotti's final game in charge while Torino suffered relegation and Bologna survived on the last day of the Serie A season.

AC Milan secured their place in the group stages of next season's Champions League by beating Fiorentina 2-0 on an emotional day of goodbyes at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Goals from Ricardo Kaka and Alexandre Pato in the second half earned the Rossoneri three points on the day that coach Carlo Ancelotti ended his eight-year reign and captain Paolo Maldini brought an end to his 24 years as a professional footballer after 902 club appearances, all for Milan. Fiorentina, who introduced the now obligatory shake of hands at the end of Serie A matches, reinforced their fair play with the entire stadium giving Maldini a standing ovation before kick-off and at the game's conclusion. La Viola had the chance to overtake Milan but have to settle for the Champions League play-off.

Roma 3-2 TorinoROMA 3-2 TORINO
Torino's three-year stint in Serie A came to an end with a narrow 3-2 defeat at Roma. Entering the match third-from-bottom but level on points with Bologna, the Turin outfit needed a win to have a chance of staying up. But they dropped into Serie B as Bologna prevailed 3-1 in their match against Catania. Jeremy Menez's first-half goal cancelled out Tommaso Vailatti's ninth-minute opener for the visitors. Mirko Vucinic put Roma in front with 15 minutes remaining before captain Francesco Totti converted from the penalty spot shortly after. Nicola Ventola reduced the deficit two minutes from time but there was to be no Torino comeback. Toro even ended the game with 10 men after Ivan Franceschini was sent off with seven minutes remaining.

Bologna 3-1 CataniaBOLOGNA 3-1 CATANIA
Bologna made sure of their Serie A status with a convincing 3-1 home victory over Catania. Nicola Mingazzini and Claudio Terzi put the hosts two up inside half-an-hour and, although Takayuki Morimoto pulled one back for the visitors five minutes into the second half, Marco Di Vaio sealed matters 22 minutes from time. Heading into the final round of matches level on 34 points with 18th-placed Torino but holding the last safety position thanks to their better head-to-head record over the Granata outfit, Giuseppe Papadopulo's side had all to play for at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara. As it turned out, Toro's 3-2 defeat at Roma meant Bologna would have survived regardless of their result today, but their triumph certainly made for a less tense afternoon than would have been the case otherwise. The result means Catania coach Walter Zenga leaves the Sicilian club on a losing note.

Inter 4-3 AtalantaINTER 4-3 ATALANTA
Inter celebrated the end of their title-winning season with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Atalanta on the day Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo retired. Inter had double reason to celebrate with coach Jose Mourinho signing a new contract to mark their fourth successive Scudetto, and they battled hard to beat Atalanta and send Figo off in style. The game got off to a great start as Sulley Muntari and Zlatan Ibrahimovic ensured Inter were 2-1 up within 12 minutes, with Cristiano Doni nabbing the equaliser. Luca Cigarini and a second from Doni gave Atalanta the lead but Esteban Cambiasso levelled in the 79th minute and Ibrahimovic scored his 25th of the season two minutes later. Ibrahimovic ends the season as top goalscorer in Serie A, with one more than Genoa's Inter-bound Diego Milito and Bologna's Marco Di Vaio.

Juventus 2-0 LazioJUVENTUS 2-0 LAZIO
Juventus put aside their managerial concerns to finish the Serie A season on a high with a 2-0 win over Lazio. Uncertainty has surrounded the club in the wake of Claudio Ranieri's sacking and Ciro Ferrara's temporary appointment, but Vicenzo Iaquinta's brace made sure Juve took second place in the league and that the departing Pavel Nedved had a fitting send-off. The veteran midfielder laid on the second for Iaquinta after an hour and almost bagged a goal for himself before being replaced late on. The result meant Juve finished level on points with AC Milan but they secured second ahead of the Rossoneri courtsey of their superior head-to-head record. Lazio, who had already booked their place in the Europa League for next season through the Coppa Italia, finished 10th in the final standings.

Genoa 4-1 LecceGENOA 4-1 LECCE
Diego Milito enjoyed the perfect send-off as he scored two goals in Genoa's 4-1 rout of relegated Lecce. The striker is off to Inter next season and showed why the Serie A champions have invested in him, scoring twice in 11 second-half minutes to add to goals from Domenico Criscito and Bosko Jankovic. Simone Tiribocchi scored Lecce's goal to equalise in the first half but ultimately it mattered little. Already assured of a place in the Europa League heading into the game, Genoa finished fifth because although they drew level on points with fourth-placed Fiorentina, the Tuscans have a better head-to-head record.

Udinese 6-2 CagliariUDINESE 6-2 CAGLIARI
Udinese fans were treated to a festival of goals as a great start propelled their team to a stunning final-day 6-2 victory over shellshocked Cagliari. The result was beyond doubt after just 15 minutes as Kwadwo Asamoah, Simone Pepe and Antonio Floro Flores gave Udinese a seemingly insurmountable lead. Cagliari, who had looked awful before the break, managed to get into the game in the second half and it seemed they might be on course for an incredible comeback when Robert Acquafresca fired home a 55th-minute penalty and Andrea Parola further reduced the deficit two minutes later. However, Giovanni Pasquale scored a minute later before Napoli-bound Fabio Quagliarella and substitute Odion Jude Ighalo capped off an emphatic victory for the hosts. The result had little impact on either team's standings with Udinese ending the season in seventh and Cagliari five points further back in ninth.

Palermo 2-2 SampdoriaPALERMO 2-2 SAMPDORIA
Antonio Cassano inspired Sampdoria to a rousing comeback from two goals down as the Blucerchiati ended their Serie A campaign with a creditable point from a 2-2 draw at Palermo. The hosts appeared well set for a last-day cruise after strikes from Fabrizio Miccoli and Davide Succi put them in control at Stadio Renzo Barbera. Crucially, Giampaolo Pazzini fired the visitors back into the game within a minute of Succi's effort and, with Cassano pulling the strings impressively for Walter Mazzarri's men, they found an equaliser through Marius Stankevicius on the hour mark. Both teams might have scored a decisive fifth goal but the draw means the Sicilian hosts finish the season in eighth position, with Sampdoria five places behind.

Napoli 3-0 ChievoNAPOLI 3-0 CHIEVO
Napoli ended a disappointing season on a high with a 3-0 victory over Chievo - but it was not enough to appease their supporters. Goals from Francesco Montervino, Mariano Bogliacino and Inacio Pia inside the opening 20 minutes ensured the home side were never pushed by a team clearly still revelling in the fact they had already secured their Serie A status before this final-day clash. But it has been a season of underachievement by the Naples club and their followers made their feelings known with a second-half demonstration which included smoke bombs being thrown on the pitch. Play was held up before order was finally restored at the Stadio San Paolo.

Reggina 1-1 SienaREGGINA 1-1 SIENA
Reggina slipped out of Serie A with only a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man Siena on the final day of the season. It looked like the Amaranto might at least bow out with a victory when Christian Stuani gave them the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of half time. The visitors had Emanuele Calaio sent off midway through the second half, but Reggina could not hold out as Massimo Maccarone fired home the equaliser with 14 minutes remaining. After escaping relegation by four points last season and just one the campaign before, Reggina have flirted with the drop one time too many.

[Sunday 31 May]

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